Jump to content

Claude Gay

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Claude Gay
Born18 March 1800
Draguignan, France
Died29 November 1873 (1873-11-30) (aged 73)
Flayosc, France
Scientific career
FieldsBotany Geology History Zoology

Claude Gay, often named Claudio Gay in Spanish texts, (18 March 1800 – 29 November 1873), was a French botanist, naturalist and illustrator.[1] This explorer carried out some of the first investigations about Chilean flora, fauna, geology and geography. The Cordillera Claudio Gay in the Atacama Region of Chile is named after him. He founded the Chilean National Museum of Natural History, its first director was another Frenchman Jean-François Dauxion-Lavaysse.[2] The standard author abbreviation Gay is used to indicate this person as the author when citing a botanical name.[3]

Research and travels[edit]

Gay first went to Paris to study medicine, but he quickly abandoned this idea to become a researcher in natural history. In 1828, he went to Chile to teach physics and natural history at a college in Santiago. In 1829, he accepted a position as a researcher for the Chilean government to carry out a scientific survey of the country.[4]

He returned to France in 1832, and gave his collections to the Muséum national d'histoire naturelle in Paris.

He returned to Chile in 1834 and explored the country again for four years. After having visited Peru in 1839, he lived in Santiago, where he wrote the multi-volume Historia fisica y politica de Chile. In 1841, Chile conferred the Chilean nationality to him, and his opus work was published by the Chilean government between 1844 and 1871.[5]

Gay returned to France in 1843, and in May, 1856, he was elected a member of the French Academy of Sciences. He made a journey through Russia and Tartary from 1856 to 1858.[4] At the end of 1858, he was sent by the French Academy of Sciences to study the mining system of the United States. He returned to France in 1860, and in 1863, he journeyed to Chile for the last time.


Portray of Claude Gay in Draguignan.

He is commemorated in the name of a number of plants and animals, including the flower Montiopsis gayana and the rufous-bellied seedsnipe Attagis gayi.

The journal of the Botanical Society of Chile, Gayana. Botánica, is named in his honour and published by the Universidad de Concepción, Chile.[6]


  • Noticias sobre las islas de Juan Fernandez, Valparaiso, 1840
  • Historia física y política de Chile, Paris, 1844–1848
  • Origine de la pomme de terre, Paris, 1851
  • Atlas de la historia física y política de Chile, Paris, 1854
  • Triple variation de l'aiguille d'amiante dans les parties Ouest de l'Amerique, Paris, 1854
  • Carte générale du Chili, Paris, 1855
  • Considérations sur les mines du Pérou, comparées aux mines du Chili, Paris, 1855
  • Notes sur le Brasil, Buenos Ayres, et Rio de Janeiro, Paris, 1856
  • Rapport à l'académie des sciences sur les mines des États-Unis, Paris, 1861


  1. ^ Travel Guide: Chile Experience by Josh Howell Second Edition. 7 February 2007 ISBN 978-956-309-028-4
  2. ^ Bernard Gainot (2016). "Jean-François Dauxion-Lavaysse (circa 1770– circa 1830). From recognition of the land to social recognition". Annales historiques de la Révolution française. 385 (3).
  3. ^ International Plant Names Index.  Gay.
  4. ^ a b Wilson, James Grant; John Fiske (1900). Appleton's cyclopaedia of American biography. New York: D. Appleton. Retrieved 8 July 2013.
  5. ^ Gay, Claudio (1844–1871). Historia fisica y politica de Chile segun documentos adquiridos en esta republica durante doce anos de residencia en ella y publicada bajo los auspicios del supremo gobierno. Biodiversity Heritage Lilbrary.
  6. ^ Gayana Botanica. "Home page". Universidad de Concepción - Chile. Archived from the original on 7 October 2013. Retrieved 8 July 2013.
  7. ^ International Plant Names Index.  Gay.


  • Marie-Louise Bauchot, Jacques Daget & Roland Bauchot, «Ichthyology in France at the Beginning of the 19th Century: The “Histoire Naturelle des Poissons“ of Cuvier (1769–1832) and Valenciennes (1794–1865)» in Collection building in ichthyology and herpetology, T.W. Pietsch, W. D. Anderson (dir.), American Society of Ichthyologists and Herpetologists, 1997: 27-80.

Further reading[edit]

  • "Claudio Gay," in Tom Taylor and Michael Taylor, Aves: A Survey of the Literature of Neotropical Ornithology, Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Libraries, 2011.

External links[edit]